With all of the diets available today, it is hard to navigate through them all. Many offer no carb, low carb, preplanned meals and calorie restrictions. It is possible to eat well without going to extremes and eliminating certain foods from your diet. In fact, some foods that popular diets claim are off limits are often healthy options that can fuel your body. The following are foods that you do not need to cut out of your diet. No one ever got fat off of fruits, healthy grains and healthy oils.
1. Pasta. Low carb dieters are well known for cutting pasta out of their diets. However, whole grain and wheat pasta is fuel your body can use, especially if you exercise. Whole grain pasta is the type of carbohydrate that your body turns into fuel. It also provides needed protein and fiber. If you skip fatty sauces, you are looking at around 210 calories per serving, which can easily be factored into any diet. Try tossing your pasta with olive oil and spices or tomato based sauces.
2. Healthy oils. Olive oil may contain 120 calories per tablespoon, but it’s rich in monosaturated fat, the heart healthy kind. You can sautee your vegetables in it or use it in your pasta dishes. Measure out your portions or drizzle lightly to ensure you aren’t overdoing it with calorie content.
3. Apples and bananas. An article in a fitness magazine once featured an actress who said she was “bad every once in awhile” and ate a banana. Bananas and apples get a bad reputation, especially in the low carb world, for their carbohydrate and sugar content. However, these are natural carbs and sugar that both your body and brain need. The human brain needs sugar to operate. It just doesn’t need the processed kind. Again, no one ever got fat off of a banana or apple.
4. Bread. Whole wheat bread is loaded with protein and fiber, is filling and is be a healthy addition to your diet. You can have whole wheat toast alongside a healthy omelet or making a healthy sandwich. Look for whole wheat options that do not have high fructose corn syrup (HFCS), a processed form of sugar. Most varieties lacking HFCS carry only 50 calories per slice.
5. Avocados and guacamole. Avocados are known as nature’s super fruit. They are also another form of healthy monosaturated fat, the kind of fat your body needs. The human body was not meant to survive without fat, and it’s the fat found in an avocado that provides us much needed nutrients. Avocados are also loaded with vitamins. Beware of the greasy chips that are often served with guacamole though. Guacamole only carries around 50 calories for two tablespoons, so it’s the chips, around 140 calories for 7 chips, that are the culprit. Find a healthier chip or spread guacamole on wraps or tacos. Use avocado to top salads, sandwiches, chilis and soups. Aim for half an avocado a day to keep calorie content in check.
6. Pancakes. It’s not necessarily the pancake that is making us fat. It’s the gobs of syrup, typically made up of processed sugar and additives. Make your pancakes from scratch using whole wheat or oat flour if you avoid wheat. Any internet search engine can provide a simple recipe. Top with fresh fruit and a drizzle of real maple syrup and you have yourself a healthy breakfast. Real maple syrup has only one ingredient; maple syrup. So check the labels to be sure. Beware of most premade pancakes mixes, as they are loaded with additives and preservatives.
7. Cheese. Cheese traditionally has a high calorie content and is usually consumed in massive quantities. What should be 1 serving can easily turn into 8, and at around 100 calories per serving, you’re looking at some excess calorie content. It is, however, a good source of protein. Portion out your cheese and enjoy it in moderation. Learn what an actual ounce of cheese looks like and stick to that. Also, be prepared to make switches. You should not necessarily enjoy cheese on your omelete for breakfast, sandwich for lunch and burger for dinner. Be aware of it’s calorie content and enjoy sparingly.
8. Pizza. It’s not necessarily the pizza that is bad, it’s the huge crust, grease and fatty toppings. Pizza can be overloaded with cheese, and, as we discussed earlier, cheese has a high calorie content in excess. If you’re buying frozen, look for thin crust to save on calories. You can also opt for healthier frozen pizzas such as Amy’s and Newman’s Own which contain hardly any grease at all and minimal calorie and fat content without sacrificing taste. If you’re ordering in, order thin crust and ask for “light on the cheese” to save yourself almost 150 calories per slice without noticing the difference. You can also load up on veggies to add nutrients while making each slice more filling for hardly any additonal calories. Pizza can provide protein, vitamins and a satisfying meal if prepared well.
9. Burgers. It’s amazing how a regular serving of beef carries only 280 calories but restaurants like Montgomery’s local Chili’s can turn that into 1,000. It’s all in how it’s prepared. It’s best not to eat any burger at a sit down restaurant (beef, turkey or even veggie), because they are cooked in fatty grease which add hundreds of calories. You are better off grilling your own. Opt for ground sirloin because it’s the leanest, healthiest kind of beef. Other options exist in turkey and chicken patties, and even veggie patties have come a long way. You can get a tasty veggie patty in your grocer’s freezer for only 130 calories a pop. Serve on a whole wheat, HFCS free bun and you’ve got a high protein, low calorie meal.
10. Fries. The perfect addition to the burger mentioned above…but prepared in fatty grease, these tasty treats can be a diet derailer. If you’re short on time, buy a bag of frozen fries and bake in your oven for a lower calorie and fat version. Even better, switch to sweet potato fries which are loaded with vitamins. The best trick is to buy your own potato, regular or sweet, and cut into wedges, toss in olive oil and spices and bake in your oven for half an hour. You’ll satisfy your craving while actually eating healthy, beneficial food.